During the last months of 2015, Southern Africa’s hydraulics stalwart, Hyflo, was acquired by Invicta Holdings’ major subsidiary, BMG Group. MechChem Africa’s Peter Middleton talks to Hyflo’s new MD, Emil Berning about the company’s focus on engineering expertise and its customised hydraulics, pneumatics and mechatronics capability.
Appointed as managing director from November 1, 2016, Berning says that Hyflo now falls under the Engineering Services Group (ESG) of Invicta Holdings. Invicta has three arms: the Capital Equipment Group (CEG), an agricultural equipment and earthmoving specialist; the Building Supply Group (BSG), with MacNeil and Tiletoria supplying sanitary- and brassware, plumbing and flooring; and Engineering Services Group, BMG, being the segment’s largest business.
Alongside BMG, the Engineering Services Group has several sister companies that operate as independent entities: Mandirk, a maintenance, repair and operating (MRO) equipment supplier; OST for vibrating equipment; OMSA, the lubrication systems specialist; Autobax for aftermarket automotive spares; and, most recently, Hyflo.
Application specific project engineering
“Unlike BMG Hydraulics, which has been fully absorbed into BMG with all its business going through the BMG branch network, Hyflo’s business is independent and involves adding value to solutions, often through projects. We focus more on higher-level engineering design, manufacture and customisation projects, hence the decision to keep Hyflo as an independent entity,” says Berning.
“We are very strong in the offshore and marine fields, for example,” he says citing a recent success story about a 40 t active heave winch. “Hyflo was contracted by Denith Engineering to design and build an electro-hydraulic system to provide high speed ac- curate control for an active heave compensated (AHC) winch. This included the design and fabrication of 11 hydraulic cylinders to complete the system.
“The system is part of a launch and recovery system designed to deploy and recover a crawler, which is responsible for trenching underwater cables. The power cables are predominately used for offshore wind farms and are laid up to 600 m deep,” Berning explains.
The winch is driven by ten Poclain 5 000 cc motors and powered by a 1.5 MW power pack. The control is taken care of by two of Moog’s latest NG32 digital axis control valves, which are synced together using a CAN network to control the 3 000 ℓ/min of flow required. The valves are mounted on two manifold blocks weighing 1.1 t each, which, along with a third distribution block, were designed and machined in-house by Hyflo.
The AHC winch is designed to keep the payload at a constant height relative to a vessel in a swell of up to 2.5 m. This is accomplished using the Moog valves, which receive three important reference signals: from a MRU (motion reference unit), along with position feedback and a tension signals, which are received from an encoder and load cell respectively. “The system’s high-speed control is directly programmed onto the valves and enables a loop time of less than 1.0 ms,” Berning tells MechChem Africa.
“We are increasingly supplying services to the international market and are particularly strong in the oil and gas industry in the Middle East,” he continues. “We also have a proven track record for work on oil rigs, to do repairs and new installations on offshore rigs and vessels,” he adds.